I couldn’t shake the feeling. All week long I simply had wanted to run away. But I wasn’t 15—I was 51. To make matters worse, I was the director of a facility that, among other things, provides for the care of teen runaways.
Unlike the usual excuses these kids make up for running away, mine seemed to be legitimate. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. These kids were God’s kids (so I reasoned), and if they were God’s kids, certainly He could provide for their care.
But this week, and for several weeks in fact, it seemed to me that He wasn’t listening to our needs or that He didn’t even care. And if He didn’t care, neither did I.
Financial disaster loomed like thick storm clouds. I sat in my office on a sofa savoring my escape plan rather than praying.
At that moment I was jolted back to reality by a 17-year-old who barged through my open door with all the grace and finesse of a bull in a china closet.
She plopped down in a chair opposite me and stared at my melancholy face.
“May I sit beside you?” The words tumbled out as though they all wanted to be first.
“Sure,” I mumbled, resenting the intrusion. She flopped over beside me on the couch much like an ungainly bag of potatoes.
“Are you rich?”
Just moments before, I was complaining to God about not providing even for the bare essentials. And now this! Why did she come anyway? Trying to be polite, yet wanting to emphasize the point, I said, “Of course not. What makes you ask?”
“Because” she started, “the kids here say you built this place for kids like me, and nobody but nobody would do that unless he was so rich he didn’t know what else to do with his money.”
“It wasn’t me,” I responded, now feeling a bit awed at her inquisition. “It was thousands of people donating money and hundreds of others donating their time to build this place.”
“But aren’t you rich anyway?” she asked as she stared into my eyes. I turned away, not wanting her gaze to penetrate my anxious soul. But at that moment I realized that God had sent this young woman to remind me of who He is and that the value of a soul is far more important than money.
I turned back. Her eyes were set, waiting for the answer.
“Yes,” I smiled. “I am very, very rich because you’re here and alive.”
With that she bolted to her feet and blurted out, “Yeah, I don’t do drugs anymore, I don’t sell my body or want to die anymore.”
As she disappeared out the door, tears streaked my cheeks in wonder and adoration for God’s gentleness in reminding me who really is in charge.
“You are so right, Stacy,” I whispered. “And I don’t want to run away anymore.”
“O Lord, I know you listen to the poor in heart. You are always ready to set your people’s spirit free” (Psalm 69:33, Clear Word).
By Tom Sanford
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